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Foraging News from Hedgerow Harvest
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“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”  


Out and about, the countryside is turning green rapidly. The warmer days and lengthening daylight mean leaves are growing and flowers and blossom are appearing. It is a great time to be out of doors on a day when you can actually feel the warmth of the sun on your back and there are plenty of wild foods to find.

With a group of other volunteers, I have been helping lay a section of hedgerow, one day per month, over the winter. We finished it this last weekend and were surrounded by Wild Garlic and couldn't help stand on a bit making the air pungent with it's wonderful smell. Our lunch time conversation included swapping favourite recipes and quite a few people took some home with new ideas to try out. Wild Garlic leaves are at their best before it flowers, so now is an ideal time to find some and use it. You can find lots of information about Wild Garlic on our blog including my culinary gift to the world of a recipe for Wild Garlic Pesto and Tomato Pasta Bake. The discussion went on to nettles, with a few having made soup but little more. Everyone should make Nettle Soup (and some of the variants) at some stage in their life, but there are plenty more uses. Another blog post of ours "There’s more to nettles than soup" is the perfect solution!
Hedgelaying
The completed hedge - Dorset style for the technically minded!
When you think of fungi you mainly think of the Autumn, but Spring is another time when there are some about too. This is proving to be a funny year with some Autumn species still on the go. In the last week I have seen reports of Chanterelles, Wood Blewitts and Oyster Mushrooms so check you local patches. There are also very early reports of Spring Fungi - Morels and St Georges. My local wood has had lots of Scarlet Elf Cups for the last month or so. If you have struggled to spot brown, black or similar mushrooms "camouflaged" against the woodland floor, these, being bright red do make things a lot easier! There is a blog post on Spring fungi too.
Scarlett Elf Cups
Scarlett Elf Cups
Have a good Spring.

James

Spring Foraging Day Courses and Walks

We've had a good number of bookings for this year's courses right through to fungi in the Autumn. Some events are already fully booked and we are having to put on additional dates to meet demand.

Spring Greens
Our focus for this course is salad leaves, wild vegetables and herbs. It is a full day with a foraging walk gathering ingredients for a three course lunch. The Dorset date is full, but there are still places left in Wiltshire on 22nd April.

Seashore Foraging Walks
We have three of these planned for this year, the two Spring ones are filling up - near Weymouth on 29th April and near Poole on 27th May. The Weymouth one has coastal plants, lots of seaweed and a chance of crustaceans, The Poole site has some plants, some seaweed and a wider range of shellfish.

Booze Walk
There are a very small number of places left on this event on 13th May in Dorchester. We are joined by Andy Hamilton, a multiple award-winning author, brewer and expert on wild food and sustainability. On Andy's wild booze walks he takes a group of people out and introduces them to the plants that grow at our feet; plants that all have a secret history. You also get to sample a variety of his wild concoctions!

Seaweed and Eat It!
Our original date of 28th May is fully booked so we have added a second date of 23rd July. We start on the shore where we find and gather a wide range of edible seaweeds then head to an indoor venue where we make a three course meal with seaweed in every course.

Seaweed on Television

Seaweed was on the television recently as part of “Back to the Land with Kate Humble“. This series champions the UK’s most inspirational rural entrepreneurs. In a recent episode she met a seaweed collector who left an office job in Swindon for a life working on the beach and is now running a successful business selling Welsh seaweed products to a global market.

The company is called The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company and Jonathan gathers a range of seaweeds on the Pembrokeshire coast continuing a tradition of hundreds of years. There is reproduction of a seaweed drying hut nearby, there were many in this area once . The company uses seaweed in:

* takeaway food sold at his beach café (street food outlet) and many outdoor festivals (e.g. Laver relish on burgers / gingercake with Laver etc.)

Gingercake with Laver
Gingercake with Laver
 
* in products – dried flakes, seaweed salts, butter, “kelchup” (yes Kelp Ketchup!) and more – sold globally including to the Japanese (“coals to Newcastle” eat you heart out!)
Seaweed products (you can make many of these yourself!)
Seaweed products (you can make many of these yourself!)

I visited the café on holiday a few years ago and the Gingerbread was stunning. I did email Jonathan for the recipe, he replied:

That is a top secret recipe, but to help guide you we use extra ginger (i.e. ginger powder and fresh ginger), Welsh Stout and Welshman’s Caviar (his dried Laver product name – apparently a phrase coined by the Welsh actor Richard Burton).

You can watch the episode here – forward to 21:12 (to 28:26).

My only criticism is I disagree with pulling seaweed directly off the rocks, I recommend cutting it.

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